Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that can help people with fibromyalgia reduce some of their symptoms by altering their brainwave patterns.
Symptoms such as depression, chronic pain, and others can be reduced or sometimes eliminated to help patients live better and be more comfortable as they go about their day-to-day lives.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a painless, natural alternative treatment for fibromyalgia and other conditions that help people learn to change their brainwaves.
When the brainwaves are changed, symptoms, such as pain, can be greatly reduced if not eliminated.
The person using this type of therapy is taught how to control their brainwaves whenever they need to in order to cope with their disease.
Learning to Control Brainwaves through Neurofeedback
The brain sends information to the body in response to signals it receives. For example, if you stub your toe, the toe will send a pain signal to the brain and the brain will respond by telling that part of your body to feel pain.
However, if the signal is disrupted, the pain will not be felt. That is one way in which neurofeedback can help reduce pain. It simply disrupts or alters the signal so you don’t feel pain.
Brainwaves can be seen on a monitoring device called electroencephalography or EEG.
Sensors that run from the machine are attached to the user’s head, at the scalp and ears, to get information from the participant’s brainwaves.
The EEG measures the amplitude of the brain, which is how many brainwaves there are in a specific area of the brain.
The information gained from the monitor allows the therapist to see if the brain is regulated or if there is a dysregulation in it.
An evaluation or an assessment of the brain is done before you start learning how to control brainwaves.
There are several neurofeedback methods that can be used to fix or control a specific area of the brain or you can simply learn how to fine-tune it to control fibromyalgia symptoms.
After the assessment, you will start learning how to control your brainwaves by a certified neurofeedback therapist.
Depending on the goal you wish to accomplish, such as reducing or eliminating pain, you will determine how many classes or sessions you need to attend to learn neurofeedback.
When the therapist monitors your brainwaves, they will watch the display, but you will hear either vibrations, sounds or see a video.
The therapist will have you focus on what you see or hear and teach you to alter your brainwaves.
The sounds or videos will change as you learn to control the brainwaves, thus the symptom or symptoms you are trying to eliminate.
How Neurofeedback Works
When the brain is monitored, the therapist can assess where the brain is functioning normally and where there is some dysregulation or over-stimulation of the brain.
The specific location of the dysregulation can be found by the therapist, who can then determine the cause of the symptoms.
Neurofeedback looks for the cause of the symptoms, not the symptoms themselves.
Once the cause has been determined for the symptoms, the several methods and/or pieces of equipment can be selected to help the patient learn to control their brainwaves to help them overcome their symptoms.
After a patient has learned how to control their brainwaves, they no longer will need to monitor their brain while doing so and they can practice their neurofeedback methods whenever they need to, wherever they are at the time.
Types of Neurofeedback
There are two different types of neurofeedback: Passive Neurofeedback and Active Neurofeedback.
Passive neurofeedback, which may also be known as EEG biofeedback or FNS, doesn’t require any participation from the patient.
In this type of neurofeedback, the brain is monitored and receives feedback from the computer through the sensors attached to the patient’s scalp. The patient simply relaxes in a chair as the feedback is done.
Active neurofeedback involves brainwave training and requires direct participation from the patient.
The patient watches a computer screen while their brain is monitored and they try to control the activity they see on the screen.
If they are successful, they are rewarded with an audio or visual cue on the screen.
How Effective is Neurofeedback for Fibromyalgia?
Several studies have been done to determine the effects of EEG on fibromyalgia. One such study was done in 2010 that showed neurofeedback was effective in helping treat pain, psychological symptoms and improved the impaired quality of life in those with fibromyalgia.
The study was published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. They concluded that neurofeedback could be effective because it helps to improve the regulation of the central nervous system.
Where to Learn Neurofeedback
Using neurofeedback to control fibromyalgia symptoms can either be taught to patients by a therapist in a clinical setting or there is equipment people can use to teach themselves how to control their brainwaves at home.
Most patients who are taught neurofeedback in a clinic may need as few as 10 sessions or up to 20 to help control their chronic pain.
The neurofeedback therapist will be able to help patients determine how many sessions would be most beneficial for them.
Most of the home neurofeedback training courses use video games to help the patient control their brainwaves.
The training program can be used with either a home PC or a portable pack. The patient learns to control the video game with his or her brainwaves, which helps to move a character in the game or add elements to the game.
When the brainwaves are correctly controlled, the character may move forward in the game or the game may speed up.
If the patient doesn’t correctly control the game, the game may stop, the character may move backward in the game or the game slows down.
Biofeedback is used successfully by many fibromyalgia patients to control their symptoms.
If you are interested to see if it can work for you, speak with your doctor about whether you are a good candidate for neurofeedback.